The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.' George Orwell
Red Utopia is a beautifully executed large format art photo book documenting communist parties and their iconography in India, Italy, Nepal, Portugal and Russia.
The book contains 65 photos.
Jan Banning, a non-partisan progressive, created Red Utopia as a non-propagandistic search for what is left of communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution. The book contains photos of interiors of communist party offices - 'museums of a future from the past' as one young Italian communist said. It also presents environmental portraits of officials and activists in five countries: India, Italy, Nepal, Portugal and Russia.
For more than a century, communism was a source of inspiration for idealists and revolutionaries who sought a more just society. The struggle between communism and capitalism was a mayor theme in recent history, certainly between 1917 and 1989.
In its practice of Real Socialism, the communist ideology turned out to be surely less than ideal; the Moscow trials in the late 1930s already shocked many believers; and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seems to have delivered the final blow. Neoliberalism, with its worshipping of the Free Market, now appears to be the only remaining ideology.
Even most of the five remaining dictatorships of the proletariat are communist in name only. With the demise of this political ideology, the need for capitalism with a human face has disappeared and the gap between rich and poor has widened in many countries. Since the crisis, which started in 2008, there has been a renewed interest in Marx as a political and economic thinker. It makes one wonder - just how dead is communism really?